November 1, 2014

Sterling Elementary and Citizen’s Bank to teach kids about money

Kevin Bunch
Megan Whitman, left, makes a deposit with Dustin Richard, a teller with the new Sterling Elementary Citizen's Bank program. Standish Citizen's Bank Branch Manager Theresa Kraatz, center, spearheaded the program.
By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STERLING — Sterling Elementary and the Standish Citizen’s Bank have kicked off a program to open an in-school bank staffed by students.

The program’s goal is to help kids learn how to be responsible with their money and hone their math skills, according to Sterling fifth-grade teacher Cathy Wendel.

“(The bank) came to us and asked if they could do the program,” said Wendel. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the kids, and the ones who get the jobs get good exposure.”

The in-school bank was opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 17, and will be open every other Tuesday. It will be staffed entirely by fifth-grade students who were interviewed by Citizen’s Bank personnel for positions such as bank tellers, branch manager, and security officers.

According to Wendel, the plan is to host the bank in the school’s library.

To participate in the banking program, parents need to fill out an application form for the students and return it to the school’s main office. Theresa Kraatz, branch manager at the Standish Citizen’s Bank office, spearheaded the program. She said the bank will open an actual “Let It Grow” savings account for the students, where they can deposit money.

In addition to helping kids open the account by putting in the initial 25 cents, Kraatz said the bank would also provide children with a piggy bank and a register book so the students can write down and keep track of their deposits.

The exact hours have not been determined, though Kraatz anticipates the school bank office will be open from the first hour of the day until students stop coming in to make deposits.

Kraatz visited the fifth grade class to explain what the bank wanted to do, and said the students seemed very interested and excited about it. Additionally, she said the program was well received by the Sterling Elementary staff, and they have been very cooperative.

“We hope to give kids practical banking experience,” Kraatz said. “The students were very excited, and they all wanted to be tellers or managers.”

Kraatz said the interviews went much like a standard job interview, and the notes that she and Bay City branch manager Stephanie Kolomak made were passed along to the school’s staff.

Students participating in the program are responsible for making up the work they miss while staffing the bank. Kraatz said the school made the final call on who would be hired.

“We gave our thoughts to the teachers for the last word, since they know more than we do about the kids,” she said.

Children who were hired received training on Friday, Jan. 13, though Wendel said she believed it would take some time for them to get the hang of things.

Kraatz has ran similar programs while working out of the Saginaw office, but said this is the first time it has been tried in Arenac County.

Kraatz said she had hoped to get it started in the fall near the beginning of the school year, but was “too new” to the community.

Having had some time to settle in now, Kraatz believes the program will now run through the end of the school year, and will pick back up again early in the upcoming school year.

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